I was on the beach playing drums the other night after our last concert for the week, and I noticed a quick bolt of lightning over the ocean. It was dark outside and we could see the stars so clearly. The ocean was mellow, but strong.
The lightning really triggered a reaction in me, as it usually does when I’m in the elements like I was the other night on the beach. Exactly ten years ago, I was struck by lightning nine miles into the wilderness on a back-country hiking trail with one of my dear friends. It was after I got struck by lightning that I realized that I wanted to share my gift of love and devotion through music as a full time endeavor.
I can remember clearly the late afternoon before we got struck on the ridge in Asheville, North Carolina in Pisgah National Forest. We were about five miles into our hike when we came to an incredible lookout of the blanket of the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains. They are so mystical, so old, and so luscious green.
At that lookout, we saw 2 big snakes coiled up on these rocks in the sun. I felt such a connection with these snakes, as I was having dreams almost every night for the past year with many, many snakes. They would wrap themselves around my body or sometimes just move around me. It was really interesting, and so seeing those snakes at the lookout was a premonition for me. I told my friend that we should go back because I didn’t feel comfortable moving on down the trail anymore. I felt something wasn’t going to go smoothly, but I wasn’t sure what it was at that time.
Well, we finally agreed to move forward on the trail, and then late in the afternoon as we were on the ridge part of our trail, we heard thunder miles and miles away. We decided we needed to find shelter pretty soon and pitch our tent. As soon as we made that decision, it was still sunny, and no clouds were in the sky. As my friend was climbing over a massive and very old fallen tree on our tree, I saw an electric blue light pop over his head out of nowhere…and there was a viciously loud crack that seemingly happened at the same time (I was behind my friend). From that blue light and loud crack came a crazy bolt of lightning that hit him on the top of his head and threw him many feet in the air and went through his body. He fell to the ground and quickly after he fell, the bolt of lightening came through the ground and hit me from my right foot and came up and out through my arms. I didn’t fall to the ground, but had enough strength in me to open my canteen and pour water all over myself and my friend. Both of our bodies were smoking.
I remember saying to my friend as I got on the ground with him, “Don’t close your eyes”, as I knew he could pass right before me if he did. And we needed to keep our eyes locked at that time in order to survive. All I could think in that moment after dousing his body in the last bit of water we had was I won’t die here, and I don’t want to walk out of this wilderness without my friend. So when we finally had enough strength, we crawled off the trail, set a tarp and sat under the tarp for 2 more hours while the rain started to pour and lightning was hitting the ground all around us. It was one of the scariest and most intense experiences of my life, although I’ve had a handful more that can come close to matching it. As we were sitting under the tarp for those couple hours, we were shaking our arms to try getting more feeling in them since they were numb from the strike. I didn’t know until that day that lightning tails off into the ground and will hit another conductor if it is close enough, which I was (I was about five feet away from my friend when he got struck.) I was also chanting mantras constantly underneath that tarp. I couldn’t do anything else but chant, and it gave me the sanity and strength that I needed to hold space for both me and my friend.
After two hours of the intense storm, we actually hiked out the whole way until we got to our car. We hiked out 9 miles of the wilderness that day, right after getting struck. We wanted to get the hell out of there. We returned to our van and after somewhat coming to and processing what just happened, we went to our friend’s house in the area and rested.
After that day, I realized that getting struck by lightning was a lesson, a gift, and a sign for me. I decided that I wanted to share full time this gift of love and devotion; that we never know when it is our time to leave this planet and we need to share what gifts we have with the world. It doesn’t have to be the same for anyone, but whatever gifts we have are meant to be shared with others. It doesn’t have to be on a global scale. It can be in our local communities. It can look any number of ways and be any number of things. It can be the gift of a sincere hug or smile. It can be the gift of caring for a friend or family member; letting someone know how much we care just by a sincere look or a sincere listen. It is all about being authentic; sincere with ourselves so that we can be that with others. May we all experience the sincerity of our own sound, our own heart, our own soul and share that with each other. That is the reason we are here, to be human.
With Love Always,